Fourth suspect arrested in Thomas Burns investigation


A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the death of Thomas Burns, who was found dead Tuesday in a freezer at his Lamar County home.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said James Allen Simmons, 59, of Purvis, was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of grand larceny and a probation violation.

Three other Purvis residents were arrested in the investigation:

·      Samantha Simmons, 35, charged with grand larceny over $25,000

·      Andy Hartfield, 51, charged with receiving stolen property

·      Will Bryson, 23, charged with receiving stolen property.

Rigel said Samantha Simmons and James Simmons are cousins. Bond was denied for Samantha Simmons, James Simmons and Andy Hartfield, while Will Bryson’s bond was set at $10,000.

Officials from the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department were notified of Burns’ body at about 1 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a call from a family member and neighbor in the 1200 block of Purvis-Oloh Road. Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said the 54-year-old Burns had been reported missing by his family the previous day.

“They searched the house and there was no sign of him,” Rigel said. “So they went back (Tuesday) and found him in the freezer.”

Members of Hattiesburg Police Department assisted Lamar County officials with processing the scene.

Burn’s body was sent Tuesday afternoon to the state crime lab in Jackson for an autopsy.

“We don’t have any idea what the cause of death is yet,” Rigel said. “We’ll know a lot more after the autopsy.”

Officials cannot yet release which stolen items are involved in the investigation, or what relation the items have to Burns or the suspects.

“We’re still doing inventory on all of it,” Rigel said. “Almost the entire house was taken, and vehicles.”